The American Pharmaceutical Association Practical Guide to Natural Medicines

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9780688161514: The American Pharmaceutical Association Practical Guide to Natural Medicines
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Echinacea, ephedra, evening primrose oil...garlic, ginger, ginseng...St. John's wort, selenium, shark cartilage -- these are just a few of the natural medicines that millions of people are using. But do they work? Medical authorities often argue against them; alternative medicine advocates tout them. What's a consumer to do, while waiting for modern science to catch up with often ancient practices?

Help is here, with The American Pharmaceutical Association Practical Guide to Natural Medicines. This unique book from a trusted name in medicine rates the effectiveness and safety of more than three hundred natural substances, based on a careful assessment of the scientific research available. The alphabetically arranged listings include every substance readers are likely to want to know about -- and some they may not be familiar with, but should be.

At a glance readers will learn the source of the substance, the forms in which it is commonly available, the claims made for it, and what scientific studies do (or don't) show about those claims. Known side effects and dangers are noted as well. A basic 1-to-5 rating scale ranks each substance. The highest rating is given to those substances with a great degree of safety and effectiveness based on "years of use and extensive, high-quality studies."

Readers also learn how natural medicines are regulated and tested here and abroad, and do's and don'ts when selecting natural medicines. Special indexes organize the medicines according to those commonly used for various symptoms.

Comprehensive and authoritative, featuring an introduction by best-selling medical authority Andrew T. Weil, M.D., The American Pharmaceutical Association Practical Guide to Natural Medicines. is the reference to trust for anyone interested in natural medicines -- from the skeptic to the curious to the dedicated -- and promises to be the touchstone for consumers for years to come.

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Review:

With an endorsement from Dr. Andrew Weil, you know this book is going to be good. And it's about time that an authoritative book like this was written; it'll come in handy for consumers who are bewildered by the lack of labeling on the hundreds of supplements available, as well as doctors and pharmacists, who likely learned nothing about these remedies in school.

The American Pharmaceutical Association (APhA) has listed more than 200 herbs--and some supplements, like DHEA, zinc, and Coenzyme Q10--alphabetically. Many herbs are illustrated. Each listing includes the following:

  • scientific and other common names (including those used in traditional Chinese medicine),
  • what part of the plant is used,
  • what ailment or ailments it's recommended for,
  • the forms in which it is available,
  • the dosages commonly used,
  • and solid discussions of effectiveness and safety based on scientific study.
The APhA also rates each herb on a 1-5 scale, with 1 being given to herbs that have been judged the most safe and effective over the years. It also cites both book and journal sources, so you know exactly where to research further if you're interested in learning even more about a particular herb.

Dr. Weil points out that while the majority of prescription drugs were derived from botanicals, the lack of standardization in the U.S. supplement industry poses a hazard. For example, extract of feverfew has been shown to be effective in treating migraine in England, but the feverfew on the U.S. market may or may not be English feverfew, and therefore may or may not be as effective. The essential "Do's and Don'ts for Wise Consumers" gives tips on choosing the best brand of herbs, and the quick indices (one listed by symptoms and the herbs recommended for treatment, and one listing the herbs and the ailments they're used for) make it easy to familiarize yourself with the many herbs available. Highly recommended. --Erica Jorgensen

About the Author:

Andrea Peirce is the author of The American Pharmaceutical Association Parent's Guide to Childhood Medications and has extensive credits in medical writing and reporting. A graduate of Stanford Univeristy, she and her husband, a physician, live in New York City.

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